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  #1  
Old Dec 7, '09, 5:03 pm
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goforgoal goforgoal is offline
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Default 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

I received this in my email. But, I deleted it because it didn't appear true.

The Twelve Days of Christmas The Meaning Behind The Song

The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, Jan. 6th, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world.
The Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" may sound silly and contrived to many of us. But it actually had its origins in religious symbolism - and with a serious purpose.
It dates from a time of religious persecution. The song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," was written as a kind of secret catechism that could sing in public without fear of arrest - a learning or memory aid to Christians in fact.
The song can be taken at two levels of interpretation - the surface meaning, or the hidden meaning known only to the Christians involved. Each element is a code word for a religious truth.


One partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

Four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

Six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophesy, serving, teaching, exortation, contribution, leadership, and mercy.

Eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

From here on, the order is different from the original song!

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

According to these two websites this is false:

http://www.snopes.com/holidays/chris...sic/12days.asp

or

http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors...fchristmas.htm
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  #2  
Old Dec 7, '09, 6:01 pm
redrosetea redrosetea is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

I beleive Fr Stockert who authored this..He was searching at a monastery in France for something else and an across this tidbit of information..he made a few notes just to share a sweet bit of information with others and then resumed his real work

After he posted this he was beset with all kinds of nasty accusations it wasn't true..He couldn't prove it because his basement flooded , and ruined his notes and his disk was so old no one was able to read it

I think he has no reason to lie, and it is up to the others to prove it is not true


BTW Snopes has no team of experts looking into anything..It is a man and his wife operating out of their home, and anything they don't believe they don't bother to investigate further

I have no idea about the other people..FR's word is good enough for me
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  #3  
Old Dec 7, '09, 6:37 pm
Rob Brown Rob Brown is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

I was actually taught about this in RCIA, the hand out reads that "between 1558 and 1829 English catholics were not allowed to openly practice their faith. They created this song as a way to help their children learn and remember all about their faith."
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  #4  
Old Dec 7, '09, 10:25 pm
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goforgoal goforgoal is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Interesting I didn't know that about snopes. "BTW Snopes has no team of experts looking into anything..It is a man and his wife operating out of their home, and anything they don't believe they don't bother to investigate further"

Well, I noticed snopes made a mistake on a Missing Child they claimed it was False and this child was really missing.

Is this what you read?

http://www.cin.org/twelvday.html

Thank you and God bless you both for the input,
goforgoal
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  #5  
Old Dec 9, '09, 11:13 am
Leela Leela is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Quote:
Originally Posted by goforgoal View Post
I received this in my email. But, I deleted it because it didn't appear true.

The Twelve Days of Christmas The Meaning Behind The Song
The whole notion that it was created to secretly pass on Catholic teaching under the noses of the Anglicans sounds absurd to me considerring that the interpretation suggested by Snopes includes nothing that would be incompatible with the Anglican Church.

How is any of this supposed to be some "lost and recovered secret" when nothing here would have been a secret at all.
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  #6  
Old Dec 15, '09, 10:14 am
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goforgoal goforgoal is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Another Thread on this topic here:

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=405583
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  #7  
Old Dec 15, '09, 10:21 am
redrosetea redrosetea is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leela View Post
The whole notion that it was created to secretly pass on Catholic teaching under the noses of the Anglicans sounds absurd to me considerring that the interpretation suggested by Snopes includes nothing that would be incompatible with the Anglican Church.

How is any of this supposed to be some "lost and recovered secret" when nothing here would have been a secret at all.
Well for one thing Fr found this while searching in a Monestary in France for other infomration and jotted down a few notes to share with fellow Catholics

He couldn't produce any evidence becauswe his basement got flooded and his disk was so old no machine could read it...It looks to me like snopes has to prove this is a lie, and they can't


I certainly don't take snopes as any great authority on anything..It is just a couple of attorneys working out of their house ,,not any big investigative body..If you don't meet their criteria they of course brand you as a liar

The fact that it was being taught to Catholics by Catholics was enough to get your murdered..It was against the law to be a Catholic or to practice your faith if you were
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Old Dec 15, '09, 10:28 am
redrosetea redrosetea is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Origin of the Twelve Days of Christmas

In 1982, Fr. Stockert put this online in 1982. Since then there has been controversy on whether or not the story of the origin is correct. Much of the story makes sense, because there are other "Catechism songs" that have similar hidden meanings, such as "Green Grow the Rushes". Could some people be disputing the origin because they refuse to acknowledge the persecution of Catholic in England during 1558 to 1829? Perhaps the objection is just to the fact that there is no paper trail to this explanation. Regardless if the origin is accurate or not, as Catholics we can use this song as a catechism, to apply religious meanings to a secular song.

Directions

You're all familiar with the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" I think. To most it's a delightful nonsense rhyme set to music. But it had a quite serious purpose when it was written.

It is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law private OR public. It was a crime to BE a Catholic.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith - a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in *writing* indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged, or shortened by a head or hanged, drawn and quartered, a rather peculiar and ghastly punishment I'm not aware was ever practiced anywhere else. Hanging, drawing and quartering involved hanging a person by the neck until they had almost, but not quite, suffocated to death; then the party was taken down from the gallows, and disembowelled while still alive; and while the entrails were still lying on the street, where the executioners stomped all over them, the victim was tied to four large farm horses, and literally torn into five parts - one to each limb and the remaining torso.

The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

The other symbols mean the following:

Two (2) Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

Three (3) French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues

Four (4) Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

Five (5) Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.

Six (6) Geese A-laying = the six days of creation

Seven (7) Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments

Eight (8) Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes

Nine (9) Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Ten (10) Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments

Eleven (11) Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles

Twelve (12) Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

by Fr. Hal Stockert, 12/17/95



From Fr Stockert


postscript:

"Over the years since this was written, in about 1982, and first put out for the online world to enjoy, I have been deluged every year with hundreds of "you can't prove this!" kinds of letters. Obviously, I cannot prove *anything* to anyone who doesn't care to believe.

However, for those who ARE interested in the provenance of the data, and to save myself the burden of having my inbox filled with notes asking for evidence to beat debunkers over the head with, I will simply add this and leave it to the reader to accept it or reject it as he or she may choose.

I found this information while I was researching for an entirely unrelated project which required me to go to the Latin texts of the sources pertinent to my research. Among those primary documents there were letters from Irish priests, mostly Jesuits, writing back to the motherhouse at Douai-Rheims, in France, mentioning this purely as an aside, and not at all as part of the main content of the letters. In those days, even though there are those who will deny this, too, it was a sufficient crime between 1538 and nearly 1700 just to BE a Jesuit in England to find oneself hanged, drawn and quartered if he fell into the hands of the authorities. Edmund Campion was not the sole Jesuit in England during the period. And there are places in England itself which, if you visit them, will attest to the antiquity and veracity of the article.

Whether you believe it or not is irrelevant to me. You can enjoy it or not, as you choose. I hadn't written it as a doctoral thesis, simply as some delicious tidbit I thought the world would be delighted to share over a holiday season. It seems, however, that there is more than one grinch, and I am not at all interested in feeding the others who remain past the one in the Christmas cartoons. Believe if you will. Dissent if you choose. Let the rest enjoy the story.

Fr. Hal 12/15/00
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  #9  
Old Dec 16, '09, 5:30 am
Leela Leela is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Quote:
Originally Posted by redrosetea View Post
Well for one thing Fr found this while searching in a Monestary in France for other infomration and jotted down a few notes to share with fellow Catholics

He couldn't produce any evidence becauswe his basement got flooded and his disk was so old no machine could read it...It looks to me like snopes has to prove this is a lie, and they can't
It sure sounds made up to me, so without any evidence to suggest that it is not just made up...

The bit about a floppy disk that can't be read by any computer in existence today sounds especially far fetched.


Quote:
Originally Posted by redrosetea View Post
I certainly don't take snopes as any great authority on anything..It is just a couple of attorneys working out of their house ,,not any big investigative body..If you don't meet their criteria they of course brand you as a liar
I don't know that I want to call anyone a liar., It just sounds like one of those fun but apocryphal urban legends like the Nieman Marcus cookie recipe.


Quote:
Originally Posted by redrosetea View Post
The fact that it was being taught to Catholics by Catholics was enough to get your murdered..It was against the law to be a Catholic or to practice your faith if you were
Now this is a Herculean effort for Christians to try to paint themselves as a persecuted minority. With over 80% of the US population identifying as Christians, you are of course part of the dominant cultural group. The lesson if any should be to claim victim status but to look at the past when there may actually have been such religious persecution against Christians and to resolve not to to do the same things to nonChristians now that you are the dominant group.
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Old Dec 16, '09, 5:40 am
redrosetea redrosetea is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

You really know nothing about the history of Cathocism
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Old Dec 16, '09, 5:48 am
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Cool Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Color me [color="Dubious"]dubious[/color] on this one, and I have been ever since I first encountered the legend in Catholic Digest back in the early 90's.

Snopes (whatever their credentials might be) lays out the case better than I could in this space, and even links to the similar use of a deck of playing cards as catechism.
Your playing cards can also do duty as a calendar/almanac, but that is not relevant here.

tee
Who wonders how high you would need count before you reached a number that could not be linked to something biblical/catechetical?
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  #12  
Old Dec 17, '09, 4:23 am
Leela Leela is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

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Originally Posted by redrosetea View Post
You really know nothing about the history of Cathocism
Please educate me. What would have happened if the Anglicans had found out that the maid a milkin secretly representedthe eight beatitudes? What specifically Catholic doctrine that needed to be hidden from the Anglicans is contained in the 12 Days song? This is a conspiracy theory about hiding things that were never secret as far as I can tell.
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Old Dec 17, '09, 6:09 am
redrosetea redrosetea is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leela View Post
Please educate me. What would have happened if the Anglicans had found out that the maid a milkin secretly representedthe eight beatitudes? What specifically Catholic doctrine that needed to be hidden from the Anglicans is contained in the 12 Days song? This is a conspiracy theory about hiding things that were never secret as far as I can tell.
If they would have found this being taught by a priest they would have been imprisoned..The priest would have been hung drawn and quartered..The family would have been accused and found guilty of hiding a priest......it isn't the doctrine it is the people that are teaching and learning it..read about the reformation and John Fisher and Edmond Campion..read about the penal laws.....read about Tyburn Tree


Priests were banned from England and Ireland..people were banned from practicing their faith on the pain of death..schools were hedgerows and things had to be taught


quickly....rosary's were disguised as jewelry



watch this video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX0w4Y13gmo
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  #14  
Old Dec 17, '09, 6:32 am
brap brap is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leela View Post
Please educate me. What would have happened if the Anglicans had found out that the maid a milkin secretly representedthe eight beatitudes? What specifically Catholic doctrine that needed to be hidden from the Anglicans is contained in the 12 Days song? This is a conspiracy theory about hiding things that were never secret as far as I can tell.
Although I do not agree or disagree about the veracity of this story, it seems plausable.

I think the point is not what is in the words but who is saying those words. Recite the "Our Father" in a mosque or temple and even though the words are not offensive per say, you are obviously not one of their congregation. Mask those same words somehow and you don't stand out.

Anyway, why get worked up about something as trival as the meaning of the 12 days of Christmas. It's very low on my list of Christmas carols as I prefer the more overtly religious ones.
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Old Dec 17, '09, 6:32 am
Leela Leela is offline
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Default Re: 12 days of Christmas meaning behind the song

Quote:
Originally Posted by redrosetea View Post
If they would have found this being taught by a priest they would have been imprisoned..The priest would have been hung drawn and quartered..The family would have been accused and found guilty of hiding a priest......it isn't the doctrine it is the people that are teaching and learning it..read about the reformation and John Fisher and Edmond Campion..read about the penal laws.....read about Tyburn Tree
But if they would have been found being taught anything at all from a priest they would have been in danger by your account. The idea of a secret meaning to a song is that the song could be sung and taught openly from one person to another as a tool for teaching secret doctrine while its real meaning could be kept secret among Catholics. But there was no reason why the "real meaning" would have needed to be kept secret at all. A song could be sung openly about the new and old testament as well as it could about two turtle doves.

The issue is not denial of historical persecution. Christians have a long history of persecuting one another (and nonChristians as well), so I don't doubt for a second that Catholic priests were in danger at that time and place from Anglicans just as Protestants were massacred in France by Catholics at around the same time. The issue is about whether such a "secret meaning" for the song is likely given that there was nothing in that meaning that would have needed to be kept secret. If the lyrics secretly hid support for the pope or cardinals or Catholic Bishops rather than the beatitudes and the gospels the claim would make a lot more sense. Why keep support for the ten commandments or the the fruits of the holy spirit a secret?

Quote:
Originally Posted by redrosetea View Post
Priests were banned from England and Ireland..people were banned from practicing their faith on the pain of death..schools were hedgerows and things had to be taught
Again, what about the "secret meaning" of the song would have been banned at that time?

Best,
Leela
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